Research aims to help fertility in cancer patients

October 9, 2011

"Depending upon the dose of radiation that's given, or the type of chemotherapy and the duration they can actually kill the germ cells, the eggs and the sperm," said Dr. Mary Zelinski.

Now animal studies at Oregon Health and Science University suggest a new drug compound may help shield those cells from damage.

"The drug that we are using is called sphingosine-1-phosphate and it prevents a pathway when a cell is stressed, like from radiation or chemotherapy, it prevents the cell from dying," said Dr. Zelinski.

Female monkeys have reproductive systems that are identical to that of human women.

Researchers at the school's primate center used implantable mini-pumps to deliver the drug directly to the ovaries of female monkeys.

"The animals that received the protective compound, then had both their ovaries irradiated were able to make and have normal offspring," said Dr. Zelinski.

Although the study had a 100 percent success rate, more research is needed.

Researchers are hopeful the treatment will work in humans.

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